As if the healthcare crisis in this country were not bad enough, on Thursday of last week the U.S. Supreme Court issued two decisions that, in my opinion, made the crisis worse. Both further tipped the balance of power between individuals and healthcare institutions in favor of the latter – exactly the wrong direction in which we need to move.
Time to rally around addressing the Innovation Deficit.
Last week I conducted a media tour for my new book in New York City. One thing really stood out for me.
My book The Sorcerers and Their Apprentices, goes on sale tomorrow, an event that I have anticipated for three years.
In many ways, it is a bit anticlimactic. No big parties or celebrations are planned. Today, I am traipsing around a steamy New York City doing media interviews, and tonight I will have a quiet celebration with my daughter Marissa and her husband Mike. My day will probably be not all that different from scores of other authors who are doing exactly the same thing.
Let the debate begin.
During my time as director of the MIT Media Lab, I witnessed first-hand what radical innovation looks like, I describe it in my forthcoming book The Sorcerers and Their Apprentices. However, while writing the book, I came to believe that the type of curiosity- and passion-driven research that thrives at the MIT Media Lab today has all but disappeared elsewhere. The seeds of creative ideas and novel inventions that grow into meaningful innovations are no longer being planted at nearly the rate they were before.
Why Inventing Technologies for the Disabled is Not Just Right but Smart Business
Q. What do a child with autism, an Iraq war-veteran amputee and a senior citizen with Alzheimer’s have in common? (Other than having disabilities that begin with “A.”)
A. They are all the early adopters of radical new technologies that will make all our lives better in the future.
This was one of the most surprising things I learned at the MIT Media Lab. Let me explain.
For my entire career as an entrepreneur, I assumed that developing innovative technologies for people with disabilities, while the “right thing” to do, was not a particularly promising business proposition. Within a year of becoming director of the Media Lab, I learned that I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Two months ago I stepped down as director of the MIT Media Lab. This five-year episode in my career was essentially a lengthy sabbatical, but not the usual type. A sabbatical is typically taken by academics to gain fresh perspectives on their fields, or write a book, or maybe spend some time experiencing what it’s like in the “real world.”
My sabbatical went in the opposite direction. I took a leave from my career in the “real world,” after 25 years as a technology entrepreneur, to experience the academic world. Of course, anyone familiar with the Media Lab knows that it is in no way a typical academic place, so my move was not really quite as radical as it may first appear.